This past Monday we celebrated Independence Day here in Ocean City. Every year the week surrounding the Fourth of July holiday is one of our busiest weeks as vacationers come from all over to soak up the sun, ride some waves and celebrate our nation’s independence. The Fourth of July often means crowds here in OC. The streets are packed with cars, hotels and restaurants are all filled to capacity, and the beach and Boardwalk are overwhelmed as onlookers position themselves to enjoy Ocean City’s Fourth of July fireworks display.
For Ocean City fishermen, the Fourth of July holiday also means crowds. Fortunately, we are blessed with an abundance of spots here in town for anglers to wet a line. Still, many of our best spots fill quickly over the holiday weekend, leaving many fishermen frustrated — searching for a place with some solitude and not so many tangled lines.
Over the years, one of the best places I’ve found for Ocean City anglers to get away from the holiday crowds is also one of our most crowded places by day — the beach. However, in the evening (and later on at night) this same beach that seemed filled to the brim during the mid-day sun can be almost vacant at times. It’s always a surprise just how much open sand does abound here in the evenings. And there are many really nice fishing spots that open up where anglers can wet a line and most times not even be in sight of other anglers. The beach truly is the place for solitude during the summer.
Fortunately, our beach isn’t just for solitude in the summer … it’s also for catching fish. There is a whole host of species that swim along our shores every summer, and most of them are caught from the surf. Probably the most common species are the panfish like kingfish (whiting), croakers, and Norfolk spot, but there are many nice flounder taken from the surf every year and there is always a chance at a sea trout or a schoolie striper or two.
There are some larger species that frequent our summertime surf here in Ocean City as well. These would be the large sting rays and “biter” sharks. Oftentimes beach bathers do not realize how close these fish really do come to shore. As many of our local beach anglers can attest, a medium length cast with a heavy sinker and a piece of cutbait will easily put you in the “zone” for one of these larger species.
So if you happen to be visiting Ocean City this coming summer and are looking to get out on your own in search of a quiet place to wet a line, don’t forget about one of our most easily overlooked (and accessed) spots — the beach. You might just have one of Ocean City’s best fishing spots all to yourself.
But for now, let’s take a look back at some of the reports that have come in from around town this past week.
At “Oyster Bay”, Sue reports, “Water temperatures are downright warm. Anglers are catching a good amount of flounder but searching for keepers. Some lucky anglers are doing pretty good. There’s lots of action with small flounder, croaker and Norfolk Spot in the bay. There’s snapper blues around the Inlet and Route 50 Bridge along with some striper action. The surf is seeing Norfolk spot, along with some croaker, kingfish, small trout, snapper blues, flounder, huge rays, skates and sharks. Quite a few large sharks were reported. Sea bass are biting offshore, with catches of cod, triggerfish and more flounder. Offshore, still good tuna fishing.”
“Shark Hunter” reports, “Fishing the Delaware Seashore State Park 16 hours yesterday and had a great time except for the first minute as I turned off the ramp to see someone had stolen the American flag hooked to a 12-foot old pole without guides that I placed on the beach the night before. I caught spot, kingfish, flounder and my first bluefish of the season. All except the blue were caught on high low rig using fish bites bloodworm alternative. A finger mullet caught the blue on the incoming. I did manage to catch a few other species, the biggest about four feet, released to fight another day. One of them took a few jumps while reeling it in, always a cool sight. The other species hit whole spot.”
“Old Inlet” reports, “The Old Inlet surf fishing class had spot, rays and small sharks this week. All on the fishbites. Captain Jim Ruback on the Virginia Lee had a limit of keeper flounder up to 6-plus pounds on Thursday from the Indian River Bay. Live spot was the ticket. Old Inlet Night Shift Supervisor Eddie Heite has been burning up the stripers after dark. Lures on the incoming tide and then floating fleas on outgoing. Starting to pick up some nice stripers floating fleas after dark. Old Inlet’s Eddie Heite had 10 fish up to 35 inches on the outgoing tide (southside) Sunday night. Daytime anglers are finding a few short stripers. Gulp baits has been proving effective nice flounder and blues on the incoming tide. Spot have been found tight to the beach – in the breakers – on the surf. Bloods — real or fake — are working. Otherwise, its a mixed bag of skates, sharks, more skates, stargazers, more skates and some skates.”
“Lewes Harbor Marina” reports, “Boats running offshore at the beginning of the week had plenty of yellowfins in the Baltimore, but the bite shifted south as the week wore on. By week’s end, best catches came from Poor Man’s and the Washington. Back inshore, fluke fishermen working artificial reef structures found flatties on days with favorable drift conditions. Last Sunday, flukers on Katy Did returned with a boat limit of 36 keepers including Bob Murphy’s 8.02 pounder. Thursday, Katy Did drifted Site 10 for 24 keeper flatfish. The Grizzly got 13 keepers at Site 10 on Thursday. Anglers using bucktail and teaser rigs tipped with squid strips and shiners did well on legal sized fish. Flounder came from reefs in Delaware Bay too. Small boaters still had flounder in Lewes Canal, and also around the Inner Wall and Ferry Jetty. Gulp was the hot bait. Tautog season reopened July 1, and toggers told of success along the Outer Wall and Ice Breakers. The slot size striper season in Delaware Bay and it’s tributaries also opened July 1. Anglers are permitted to keep two striped bass between 20 and 26 inches only, from now until Aug. 31. Minimum size in the ocean and Indian River Inlet remains at 28 inches with a two-bass per person daily limit. Rockfish were caught by casters tossing Rat-L-Traps and Storm Shads at the Outer Wall and Ice Breakers. Those employing eels, clams or cut tuna bloodline captured slot stripers in Lewes Canal."
Captain Victor Bunting on the “Ocean Princess” reports that he has still been picking up a mix of both keeper and throw back sea bass over the last week. He wrote, “We are starting to see a few more nice flounder coming in and have probably landed a dozen keepers in the last few days. Ralph Kessel of Gettysburg Pa. had a 19 ½-inch and a 22 ½-inch flounder. Brent Seltzer of Boothwyn, Pa. had a nice 22-inch flounder. The occasional triggerfish is also being caught, just not as frequently as I would like. I would expect to see a few more of these scrappy fighting fish over the next week. Of course we had a couple trips this week where it has been tough to put a real good catch together, but I would say that we have definitely seen more good days than bad.”
Captain Chris on the “Angler” reports, “We had another good week of sea bass fishing on the Angler. Some days are tougher than others, but overall not bad for this time of the year. Most people have been heading home with six to 10 keepers, and some lucky anglers approaching 20. The largest fish of the week tipped the scales at 4 pounds. We are also seeing more flounder. We are sailing daily from 730 a.m.-2 p.m. The cost is $62, which includes rod, reel, and bait. Thanks and hope to see you soon.”
Capt. Dustin on the “Overboard” reports, “An up-and-down week of offshore fishing. Tuesday we had a lot of bites fishing around the chicken bone and returned home with one bluefin tuna and a nice mahi in the box. Friday, the ocean was flat calm and sunny all day but we couldn’t find the fish anywhere and only had three bites, catching two small bluefish in 20 fathoms. Saturday we headed out to 30 fathoms and had non-stop action all day. jumped off a 30-pound-plus mahi, caught a 107-pound bluefin tuna, two 40-pound yellowfin tunas, and broke off another bluefin tuna over 100 pounds. Sunday, we had a father and his two sons out bottom fishing and the sea bass were not biting as good as I wanted them to, so we trolled bucktails on spinning rods and caught over 20 bluefish in the 20-inch range and they had a blast. It’s funny how things can change from day to day out there, you’re either in the right spot at the right time or you’re not. We give it a 100% every day, but it’s the bad days that wear a good captain out. Overall, fishing is still really good offshore for this time of year with white marlin and yellowfin tuna in the 40-mile range.”
Capt Sean on the “Restless Lady” reports, “Trip to the Poorman’s pays off again although bite a little slower today. The young anglers turned in an great performance. Mark murphy, 8, and Ian Swidersky, 10, were the stars today capturing seven yellowfins releasing six others and saw three white marlin, jumped two off. Later in the week, we had 25 throw backs and some legal keepers with skippies and mahi mixed in, 12 nice yellowfin tunas, which puts the Restless Lady over 350 tunas caught so far this season with great crews and great fishing.”
Capt. Drew on the “Tortuga” reports, “This past week showed us a little more consistency on the keeper flounder, having a couple trips with multiple legal fish. When conditions were right the action on throwbacks was outstanding, having one three hour trip where over 250 fish were caught and released. One family of four fishing on the starboard side of my wheelhouse (two young boys, father and grandfather) caught 31 fish themselves. Another positive note this week is the more consistent presence of croakers to be caught on the latter part of the outgoing tide. On one trip, we caught 12 to 15 in about one hour of fishing.”
Here at “Skip’s Bait & Tackle Shop”, we weighed in some more nice flounder this week. John Adams of Harrington Del. brought by two nice flatties he caught at the 2nd to 4th street bulkhead. They measured 19 and 20 inches, and both were caught on live minnows. The flounder fishing is the best we’ve seen in years so get out there and try your luck. My charters are still action packed with the striper bite still going strong. The fish are mostly under sized but the action is non-stop. We also are booking our family flounder trips in the bay. With the bite being good this year, it’s a great trip for the little ones in the family.
All four of our charter boats here at Skip’s Charter & Guide service are having awesome fishing, with some of the best fishing we’ve seen in years. Inshore and offshore fishing is off the hook. Pick up that phone and give us a call and book that fishing trip. We still have openings but their filling up fast. We also have our bay boat running with family flounder trips, plus our fishing, clamming, and crabbing combo charter for just $450 for a half day of family fun. We provide all rods and tackle as well as all the bait, so pack some sunscreen and a few drinks and come on out for a memory-making day on the water.
When you step on the boat, you are stepping on a boat that has over 40 years of fishing and boating experience with some of Ocean City’s top captains working for Skip’s Charter and Guide Service this year. Give me a call at the tackle shop at 410-289-Fish (3474) or on my cell 410-430-5436 and let’s talk fishing.
At the tackle shop we are open 6 a.m.-9 p.m., seven days a week, with a great staff that will answer any questions you may have about fishing the Ocean City waters. If you have a report or pictures you would like in The Dispatch or on www.oceancityfishing.com, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. The summer weather is here, and the fishing is smoking hot. So get out there and fish! Who knows? Maybe I’ll be writing about you next week.
(Maguire is an outdoor writer and owner of Skip’s Bait and Tackle and Skip’s Charter and Guide Service in Ocean City.)